Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
- Lions keep playoff hopes alive with thrilling comeback win. Trailing by four points, facing fourth-and-inches from midfield, Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dialed up a pass that befuddled Robert Saleh’s defense. The onions call by Detroit got tight end Brock Wright wide open. The undrafted second-year player rumbled 51 yards for the game-winning score. Jared Goff and the offense couldn’t get much going most of the contest, stalling three times in the red zone against a good Jets defensive and generating six offensive points until the final drive. But when it needed a play after coughing up the lead late, Detroit found a way. It’s a massive victory for Dan Campbell’s squad, which had questions about whether it could win on the road against good opponents. The Lions answered in a big way Sunday, moving to 7-7 – winning six of their past seven games – to remain in the playoff hunt with three games remaining against teams under .500.
- Zach Wilson once again struggles within framework of the offense. The second-year quarterback made some explosive plays to give Gang Green life. Wilson generated seven plays of 20-plus yards, including a 40-yard TD to C.J. Uzomah and a pair of 33-yarders to Garret Wilson. Wilson was at his best on rollouts, and he took shots when the play broke down. In the first half, he avoided the big mistakes. But when the Jets asked him to play from the pocket and run the offense, Wilson still looked lost. He sailed balls over the middle, skipped a flair pass and took sacks. His second-half interception was a brutal error tossed right to a Lions defender. And he got lucky on a fluttered pass under pressure that Michael Carter caught for a first down. With Wilson under center, there is simply no rhythm to the offense. It’s a prayer for big plays. Yes, Wilson finished with 317 yards and two TDs. He was also facing a Lions defense that ranked in the bottom three in the NFL. There were more opportunities in the middle portion of the game to stack positive drives. It’s hard not to think that Gang Green would have put more points up and earned a win with a more consistent Mike White under center.
- Lions avoided throwing at Sauce Gardner. Gang Green’s defense deserved better, stymieing a high-flying offense for most of the contest even without Quinnen Williams. Multiple special teams errors (punt return TD allowed; missed FG) and a struggling offense cost the Jets. The defense stuffed the Lions’ run game, smothered receivers in the red zone, and didn’t give up a big play until its final snap. How much did the Lions respect rookie corner Sauce Gardner? In 66 snaps, the Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite wasn’t targeted a single time, per Next Gen Stats. That’s what a lockdown corner brings to the table – wiping out half of the field. Unfortunately for the 7-7 Jets, the loss puts them in survival mode with three weeks remaining.
Next Gen stat of the game: On fourth-and-inches, Brock Wright had 10.7 yards of separation from the nearest defender when the pass arrived. Wright was expected to gain 31 yards after the catch, second-most on any reception this season.
NFL Research: Lions have won three straight games in December for the first time since Weeks 14-16, 2014. Only one team all time has made the playoffs after starting 1-6 (1970 Bengals).